"Scary Movie 4" opens with back-to-back satires of the "Saw" films and "Brokeback Mountain," and while you have to admire the producers' industry at getting that material in so quickly, you also have to wonder if maybe we needed a little more time for "Brokeback Mountain" jokes to be funny again. Because, you know, they're so five minutes ago.
A lot of "Scary Movie 4" feels like that. Like its immediate predecessor, "Scary Movie 3," it was directed by "Airplane!" veteran David Zucker and features Leslie Nielsen in a supporting role as the doofus President of the United States, who this time gets to parody George W. Bush's response to 9/11 and walk around naked at the United Nations. Neither is pretty.
"Scary Movie 4" finds Anna Faris' eager idiot Cindy Campbell returning to share screen time with Craig Bierko as Tom Ryan, a parody of Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds." Aliens attack, which gives Tom plenty to do, while Cindy finds herself grappling with the creepy Japanese curse from "The Grudge" in the haunted house next door.
The stage is set for funny, but there's no satirical spin; as was the case with "Scary Movie 2," large chunks of "Scary Movie 4" are devoted to slavish re-creations of costumes and sets rather than actual parody. Spielberg's rampaging tripods are perfectly replicated, and Bierko does a great imitation of that creepy determined thing Cruise does in all of his movies, but Zucker never finds a way to play them off one another. He's only interested in mugging and pratfalls, and it's pretty disappointing to see such game comic actors as Faris, Regina Hall, Charlie Sheen and Chris Elliott used solely as throw pillows. And all the best jokes were in the trailer.
Genius Products is releasing two cuts of "Scary Movie 4," in three different DVD editions: The theatrical release arrives in a full-frame disc, while the expanded, unrated version is available in both full-frame and enhanced widescreen.
Zucker's clearly the star of the DVD package; not only does he contribute an audio commentary with producer Robert K. Weiss and co-writer Craig Mazin, and reprise the same function over 15 deleted scenes, but he's the subject of two production featurettes -- one about his pratfalls-and-pop-culture directorial approach, the other about his distinctive laugh.
The disc also includes the obligatory blooper reel, along with a five-minute assembly of outtakes from the documentary interviews and two featurettes focusing on Zucker's random assemblage of guest stars from the hip-hop world.
STUDIO: Genius Products, Inc.
RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2006
TIME: 81 minutes (PG-13)/89 minutes (unrated)
DVD EXTRAS: French audio dub; English and Spanish subtitles; audio commentary; deleted scenes; production featurettes; gag reel.